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Mohd Fariz Anuar, a 44-year-old ambulance driver, was hailed a hero after he helped save more than 30 secondary and primary school students in Pasir Gudang who fell ill after inhaling methane gas from the Kim Kim River last Thursday (7th March).
In a tweet by the Ministry of Health, it was confirmed that the ambulance driver was admitted at an Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Pemandu ambulans, Mohd Fariz Anuar terlantar di hospital selepas terhidu gas beracun.
Beliau telah menyelamatkan lebih 30 pelajar yg terhidu gas metana, dlm kejadian Khamis lalu di Pasir Gudang.
Doakan kakitangan kami ini kembali pulih.
— KKMPutrajaya (@KKMPutrajaya) March 11, 2019
He was unconscious for two days due to his exposure to the poisonous gas. According to Harian Metro, the 44-year-old’s lungs were not working at their full capacity, but he is now on the road to recovery.
Speaking to the daily, his wife, 45-year-old Hanisah Alias, said that the last time she spoke to Mohd Fariz was on the phone when he was on his way to a school in Pasir Gudang to help students who were experiencing poisoning symptoms at around 10am on 7th March. According to Hanisah, her husband told her that he would call her back later that afternoon after he was done with his duties. She was quoted as saying,
“However, at 2.30pm, I received a call from his colleague, who said that my husband was taken to the Sultan Ismail Hospital (HSI) after he experienced some health complications.”
The mother of 4 was reportedly informed that her husband was driving an ambulance and helped many of the young victims who fainted after inhaling the harmful chemicals.
“From what I know, he was wearing a mask at the time, but I suppose he received prolonged exposure to the polluted air, which is probably why he fell sick.”
Hanisah added that her husband’s lungs and kidneys were inflamed due to inhaling the toxic fumes.
“He’s still in the ICU and underwent dialysis to get rid of the toxic chemicals that were absorbed by his body. This is the first time my husband has experienced something like this in his entire career. I pray that God heals him quickly.”
According to Hanisah, Mohd Fariz is showing signs of progress and regained consciousness on Saturday (9th March). In a report by The Star, the ambulance driver only had the sick schoolchildren on his mind when he woke up. Hanisah was quoted by the daily as saying,
“The first few words that came out from him were to ask if those children were safe. He also asked about our children.”
“I told him that he did a wonderful job rescuing all those children and asked him to rest.”
While he is recovering, Mohd Fariz still depends on a breathing apparatus for now.
Meanwhile, Permaisuri of Johor Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris Shah has since visited Mohd Fariz at the hospital on Saturday (9th March).
As of Wednesday (13th March), about 506 people, mainly children, have fallen ill after chemical waste was illegally dumped into the Kim Kim River on 6th March. Many of these victims have experienced nausea, vomiting, and breathing difficulties after inhaling the harmful gas from the river. All 111 schools in the Pasir Gudang district have since been ordered shut for the time being until the issue is resolved.
In light of this situation, three male suspects, two of whom are factory owners, have since been arrested. According to Energy, Science, Technology, Environment & Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin, one of these suspects is expected to be charged under Section 34(b) of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 today (14th March). If found guilty, he could face up to 5 years in jail, a fine of up to RM500,000, or both.
Our thoughts are with the people of Pasir Gudang and we hope the authorities do their best to control this situation. We also wish Mohd Fariz and everyone else affected a speedy recovery!
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